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April 25, 2006

eNewsletter from the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal


Progress continues in south Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.  Read about recent advancements in the following update from the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal. 


Governor’s Commission Recommendations


The Mississippi Legislature recently passed and Governor Haley Barbour has signed into law two measures that were recommended by the Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal.


Senate Bill 2943 creates the Mississippi Gulf Region Utility Board to coordinate and manage water, wastewater, storm water and solid waste services.  This new entity will serve the counties of Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River, Stone and George.  Suggested by the Public Services Committee of the Governor’s Commission, this regionalized approach will provide decreased costs and higher quality delivery of these services to the citizens of the six southern counties.


To read about the regional utility board, click here


House Bill 1406 requires stricter building codes for Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River and Stone counties.  Those counties and their municipalities will be required to build to the wind and flood mitigation requirements prescribed by the 2003 International Residential Code and the 2003 International Building Code.  Adoption of these safer codes was advocated by the Governor’s Commission Affordable Housing Committee.


Click here to read about Building Code Legislation

Katrina Cottage


The State of Mississippi has proposed to the Senate Appropriations Committee a pilot program to build 20,000 Katrina Cottages for gulf coast residents currently living in travel trailers.  The Katrina Cottage design, which offers a more comfortable, cost efficient temporary housing alternative, was created at the charette hosted by the Governor’s Commission in October.  The proposal design parameters are being developed by a team of architects, builders and policy analysts. The small houses, modeled after Mississippi-style coastal cottages, are also safer and more hurricane-resistant than travel trailers. 


If successful, the pilot program could revolutionize the way temporary housing is handled following a natural disaster. 


Click here to read about the Pilot Program Appropriation


Airline Summit


Airline and airport representatives recently met in Biloxi to view firsthand the progress in South Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina.  The Mississippi Gulf Coast Air Service Summit, which was attended by Governor Barbour, aimed to encourage airlines to increase the number of flights at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport and to expand the number of cities directly served by the airport. 


Enhancing air service on the Coast was one of the major recommendations of the Governor’s Commission Tourism Committee.


Click here to read about the Airline Summit


Homeowner Assistance Program


The Mississippi Development Authority began accepting applications for the first phase of the Homeowners Assistance Program on April 17, 2006.  Applications are accepted by appointment only. 


The first phase of the Hurricane Katrina Homeowner’s Grant Program is designed to provide financial assistance to those homeowners outside the floodplain whose homeowner’s insurance did not cover structural flood damage.


Application guidebooks for the program were inserted in coast area newspapers beginning Sunday, April 16, 2006, and are also available at coast area post offices, Disaster Recovery Centers, city halls and financial institutions. 


Potential applicants are encouraged to complete an online application before their appointment.  Online applications will be available to the public on April 24th.   For more information concerning the program, including online applications and appointment scheduling, please visit www.mshomehelp.com, or call 866.369.6302.


Supplemental Appropriations


In December, the Congress and the President approved a supplemental appropriations package unprecedented in both size and flexibility for the states affected by last year’s hurricanes.  On April 4, 2006, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved another supplemental appropriations package for hurricane related expenses.  This measure will come before the full Senate in late April. 


To view the text of the Supplemental Package passed last December, click here


To view the Senate Appropriations Committee Report on the most recent supplemental appropriation, click here


National Emergency Grants


Working with the Department of Labor, the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal is seeking to reprogram funds that will allow local governments to hire grants managers to assist them with the identification, writing and implementation of disaster recovery grants.  Once approved, local government officials will be notified as to how to reserve the funds and hire staff. 


Housing Strategy Session


The Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal hosted a strategic planning session in Jackson on April 13th.  The session was designed to facilitate the development of short-term goals and action plans focused on housing.  The housing workshop created a short-term strategy for dealing with the housing shortage on the Coast.  A diverse group of interested parties were present, including government agencies, housing associations, building associations and nonprofits.  Future meetings will follow as tasks are assigned and implemented. 




FEMA’s Emergency Support Function 14 (ESF-14) is continuing to work with local communities to create long-term recovery plans.  ESF-14 has hosted community outreach meetings in Harrison and Hancock counties to gather public input on potential recovery projects.  Open house meetings for Jackson County residents will be held on April 24th at Vancleave High School and April 27th at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College cafeteria.


Debris Removal Deadline Extension


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has extended its deadline for 100% federal reimbursement for debris removal.  Through June 30, 2006, FEMA’s Public Assistance Program is authorized to pay 100% of the eligible cost of debris removal in Mississippi.  After that date, FEMA will pay 90% of the costs, with the state and local governments paying the remaining 10%. 


Office of Recovery Staff Addition


The Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal recently added another member to our field staff.  Jamie Miller, a life-long resident of the Coast, comes to the Office of Recovery and Renewal with extensive experience, having previously served as Assistant City Manager and Planning Director for Pascagoula.  He has worked as Vice President of Operations for a full-service information technology company specializing in Geographic Information Systems.  Jamie is a former commissioner for the Gulf Regional Planning Commission and was a co-founder and President of the Mississippi Floodplain Managers Association.  Jamie will be working closely with leaders and officials in Jackson and George counties.